Cross section of students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) at the launch of UNIPORT's Sexual Harassment Policy Document on Tuesday

By Desmond Ejibas

The University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) on Friday clarified the status of Mrs Ijeoma Duru, an Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Education, when she attended the university’s  official presentation of the Sexual Harassment Policy document on Oct. 29.

According to a statement issued by Dr Williams Wodi, the Deputy Registrar, Information, Publications and Public Relations, UNIPORT, Duru was in the event in her capacity and not as a representative of Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu.

The clarification became necessary as a result of the personal remarks made by Duru while reading Adamu’s speech which was credited to the minister in respect of the sex-for-grade issue raging in some higher institutions in the country.

The Assistant Director, Tertiary Education Department in the Ministry, while delivering a speech had made an extempore remark advising female students to desist from going to lecturers’ offices unnecessarily in order to stave off sexual harassment.

“Duru made a few extempore (informal) statements that may not have been captured the way she intended them to be interpreted.

“It is possible that the audience at the event may have rightly believed that the senior official spoke on behalf of the Minister,’’ Wodi stated.

He explained that the minister in his wisdom could not have made such ‘embarrassing’ remarks – knowing that students had a variety of reasons that were certainly not to ‘sexually harass’ lecturers.

“It is common knowledge that male and female students have several genuine reasons to visit the offices of their lecturers – male or female.

“So, this statement runs against elementary logic and rational thinking that the minister made this comment having been in the forefront of the campaign against sexual harassment on university campuses.

“We can only assume that Duru, who was obviously not mandated to speak for the Minister, may have said a few things that may not have been captured the way she meant them.

“This does not in any way suggest that the media deliberately quoted Mrs Duru out of context.

“But it is simply to set the record straight with respect to what the Assistant Director actually meant to convey to the audience before she unveiled the Sexual Harassment Policy document,” he pointed out.

The university spokesman appealed to the public to disassociate the minster from the controversial statement by Duru.

“Duru made the comment in her own right as an official of the Ministry; and not in her capacity as a representative of the Honourable Minister,” Wodi emphasised. (NAN)

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